Women in Philanthropy (“WIP”) began as a small group of engaged, community-minded women at the Scranton Area Foundation that wanted to create meaningful, positive change in the lives of women and girls in Lackawanna County.
A New Kind of Philanthropy
The Scranton Area Foundation formed a WIP planning committee to decide how best to go about accomplishing this goal while also creating a new, unique kind of philanthropy. One that is active, involved, participative, and empowering, and which actively involves members in both the decision-making and funding processes. One that provides members the connections to causes and those that are making those changes. One that creates connections with other like-minded people that want to create solutions for long-term, systemic change for women and girls in our community.
Throughout 2014, the WIP planning committee hosted roundtable discussions to meet with our community’s educators, nonprofit directors, and business leaders to determine the greatest challenges facing women and girls in Lackawanna County. The purpose of these discussions was to root out the source of the problems being encountered and to think about how to tackle them directly with innovative programs and concepts that would solve the problems, rather than simply managing them.
In these discussions, the WIP planning committee began to hear repeating themes emerge. Families faced cycles of generational poverty. Girls were discouraged from pursuing education and careers in fields historically dominated by males. School districts throughout Lackawanna County lacked the funding to provide students with access to courses in STEAM education. Marginalized communities and low-income women had no access to lines of credit or the ability to save for sudden emergency situations. Financially disadvantaged communities did not have access to healthy, fresh food choices. These same families also frequently suffered an inability to access affordable healthcare or gain the knowledge to make informed decisions to keep their children and themselves healthy.
WIP: Become a Part of the Solution
WIP is designed to confront the many issues facing women and children through a process of engaged, collective, and active philanthropy where members are a part of the funding process within several priority areas; areas that are poised to make systemic change for women and children. As an initial measure, two funds were created at the Scranton Area Foundation: an endowed fund, which will generate resources for these initiatives in perpetuity, and a non-endowed fund, meant to provide immediate funding for ground-breaking, innovative programs. Working simultaneously and working together, Women in Philanthropy will empower and transform the lives of women and girls throughout Lackawanna County.